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P L 


B M Elt, fl33 

• ^ 

A G K A M M A 1< 


Sgavv Karen 


Of the American Baptist Mission 
m Burma. 

R A N G O O N : 

" F. D. PHINXEV srPT. 



Sgaw Karen 


0/ the A mfncaH Baptist Mission 
m Burma. 



f. d. phinnev supt. 

X^'^ UJ , U^ 1 ^ c> 



' - 1 h 

In compliance with current copyright law, 

U. C. Library Bindery produced this replacement volume on 

paper that meets the ANSI Standard Z39. 48-1 984 to replace 

the Irreparably deteriorated original. 



This book has been called forth by the needs of the 
American Baptist Karen Mission in Burma. For many 
years there has been in print no book from which a begin- 
ner could learn the grammatical principles of the Karen 
language. Dr. Mason's Anglo- Karen grammar has long- 
been out of print ; and even when a copy could be secured, 
it was (owing to the incomplete state in which it was left) 
very perplexing to a neophyte, though very valuable to the 
more advanced student. Dr. Wade's Karen Vernacula7' 
Grammar does not begin to be of much assistance until the 
student is able to read Karen, although the English re- 
marks interspersed throughout it may be nsed at an earlier 

The book here offered students of Karen does not pretend 
to be an exhaustive grammar of the language. The author's 
aim has been to introduce beginners to the principles of 
Karen grammar. He has not attempted to account for 
every idiom of the Karen language; still less has he aimed 
to do the work of a lexicographer. 

The author acknowledges heavy indebtedness to the 
works of Dr. Mason and Dr. Wade. He has drawn upon 
these sources with less scruple as they are not generally 
available to beginners in Karen. His thanks are due to 
the Rev J. N. Gushing, D. D., and the Rev. D. A. W. 
Smith, D. D., for encouragement and assistance in the 
inception of the work, and to the Rev, W. F. Thomas, M. A., 
for a critical reading of the manuscript. 

David Gilmore. 

A Grammar of the Sgaw Karen. 


1. The Karen language, in its grammar, presents strik- 
ing analogies to the English. Like the Engli.-h, it depends 
mainly on the order of words for expressing its syntactical 
relations, and the order of words is much the same as in 

2. The Karen differs from the English in being a 
monosyllabic language. Its words, with some real and some 
apparent exceptions, are monosyllables. The accidents of 
ease, gender, person, number, time, etc., are expressed, some 
(as the person of the pronouns and the gender of certain 
nouns) by the intrin'=ic signification of the words, some (as 
the case of nouns) by the position of the words in the 
sentence, and some (as the accidents of verbs) by certain 
particles prefixed or affixed to the root. 

3. The two grand principles of Karen grammar are 
enunciated with substantial correctness, though not with 
perfect accuracy, by Dr. Wade : ''1st, Any root or combina- 
tion of roots, becomes a noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, ad- 
verb, preposition or conjunction, according to the office it 
performs in a sentence. 2nd, Each syllable, or root, has a 
signification of its own. and a grammatical relation to one 
or more of the other .syllables in every compound part of 


4. The Karen Alphabet is derived from the Burmese. It 
consists of 25 consonants and 10 vowels, with 6 tones, the 
character oo appearing among both consonants and vowels. 



5. The consonants, with their names and powers, are 
as follows — 

otmSx kk 

o^oqjiScSi gh 

ijosS^ ch 




c c«?N^ ^^9 

o o»o:>c^ifS .s 

30 aojoocc hs 

5) Sl-S"^^ -^^ 

00 oosoo?>3? A^ 

3 osoool d 

f ^soocos n 

o osooS 2) 

<3 <5?o68 hp 

00 oosooo^s 6 

« osgioos m 

CO O0298c8 2/ 

q qsojjS ■ r 

CO cojco^rB^ Z 

o osooSi It; 

oo cos§^ej8i «A 

uo cognof.c8i h 

30 oatssB — 

<J cjxooootS j^ 

(j. The powers assigned to the consonants in the above 
table do not in all cases perfectly represent the sounds of 
the Karen letters. The following remarks may assist the 
learner in acquiring such sounds as cannot be represented 


exactly in English, though his main reliance must be upon 
the living teacher. 

CO has a sound intermediate between k and g. 

3 is the aspirate of oo. It is pronounced like kh as 
heard in the phrase brick house, or in Bokhara. 

o has no analogue in the European languages. 

^J0 is pronounced like ch in the German bach, or the 
Scottish loch. \ 

c is pronounced like ng in sing, or n in ink* 

o has a sound intermediate between s and s. ' 

20 is the aspirate of o. It has the sound of ssh, as 
heard in the phrase lilss him. 

5 is pronounced like sh in shun. 

Q is pronounced like ;7 in canon, or ny in lanyard. 

00 has a sound intermediate between t and d. 

00 is the aspirate of co. It is pronounced like th as heard 
in the phrase hot house. 

o has a sound intermediate between p and b. 

(2 is the aspirate of o It is pronounced like y9/( as 
heard in the phrase hap hazard. 

CO is pronounced like th as heard in thin. 

03 as a consonant has no sound of its own ; it is a mere 
stem to which vowel signs are attached. 

has no analogue in the European languages. 

When any one of these consonants stands alone it is 
pronounced with the sound of the short vowel a, as in 

If the learner will remember to breathe hard in pro- 
nouncing the aspirates 3, co, oo and o, he can hardly fail 
of getting the correct sound. 

7. When one consonant follows another with no vowel 
sound intervening, the second consonant is represented by a 


symbol, which is joined to the character representing the 
first consonant. The consonants capable of such combination, 
with their symbols, and illustrations of their combination 
with the consonant co, will be found below. 

o J 05 bgh 

^ -/ OT 62/ 

G[ Q Q hr 

CO J ocjj feJ 

o " =8 ^^ 


8. As has already been said, every consonant, when 
written alone, is understood to be followed by the short 
sound of a, as heard in quota. 

9. This sound, when standing alone, is represented by 
the character c». 

10. Other vowel sounds are represented by symbols joined 
to the consonants which they follow. 

11. When such vowel sounds stand alone, their s'^mbols 
are joined to the character 33, 

12- The vowel symbols alone, and in combination with 
00 and 00. are shown below. 

20 a CO • ba 

1 9^ a 3D 6a 
so i z6 hi 

■) asi 001 bo 

\ €r^ u cq bu 

I 3| u cq bu 

. 3? e . C9 be 

"^ ab e '^ be 

° 4 o :S bo 

tS luv c8 baw 


13. The subjoined table explains more definitely the 
powers of the voAvels. 

00, a iu (jiwta. 

osl, a in father. 

09, i m T/iachine. 

03T, German o in Gdihe, or u in Turkey. 

33, German u in Gliick, French u in lune. 

o^, u in rale, oo in vwon. 

OS, approximately a in ?'aie. 

o^, French e in Moliere, or e in -yjw^i. 

^, o in note. .. ' 

o8, a-io in 'rmv. 


14. In Sgaw Karen, every syllable consists of a vowel, 
either alone, or preceded by a single or double consonant. 
A syllable always ends in a vowel. Every syllable may be 
pronounced in six different tones of voice, the meaning vary- 
ing according to the tone in which it is pronounced. 

15. Where no tone is marked, the syllable is pronounced 
with a rising inflection. 

A syllable marked with S (ooioo) is pronounced with a 
heavy falling inflection. 

A syllable marked with 5 (ossoo) is pronounced abruptly, 
at a low pitch. 

A syllable marked with s(c!gi^c6s) is pronounced abruptly 
at an ordinary pitch. 

A syllable marked with p (cosco) is pronounced with a 
falling circumflex inflection. 

A syllable marked with i (od^8) is pronounced with a 
prolonged even tone. 

16. When the above mentioned signs follow 1, the! is 
omitted for the sake of brevity ; e. g., instead of oolS we 
write odS. 



17. A few characters not belonging to the Sgaw Karen 
alphabet have been introduced, and are occasionally used 
in transliteration from English into Karen. 

The Burmese ® (pronounced c) is sometimes used to 
represent the English j or soft g. 

The Pwo Karen inflection j (oj^cos) is sometimes used to 
represent a final (, in an English syllable. It is pronounced 
like p. 


18. S is generally pronounced like 6%, and <S like Si; but 
at Tavoy and Alergui they are sometimes pronounced like 
S\ and «i respectively. 


19. English punctuation marks are used. The comma, 
period and quotation marks are commonly used, the excla- 
mation point and semicolon less commonly, the colon and 
the interrogation point not at all. 


20. The Numerals are as follows — 

012 3450789 

The Arabic system of notation is used. 


21. The order of words in Ivaren may be illustrated by 
the following simple sentence: S\o1od^c6^c8\, Soav Wa 
biiikls a house. 8\o1, Saiv Wa, subject; oj^, builds, 
predicate; o6^, house, object; c8i, a particle used to mark 
the close of a declarative sentence. 

A Karen sentence, therefore^ resembles an English sen- 
t-ence in two particulars — 


(1) The order of words is: subject, predicate, object. 

(2) The subject and object are recognized by their po- 
sition in the sentence. 

22- Modifiers may be added to the above sentence as 
follows: ooc^o^8ioloosyS||^o^^cB^c6^^]^]'^i, Sometimes old 
Saw Wa builds a house quickly, oocr^c^, sometivies, ad- 
verbial modifier; oosyS, old, adjective modifying Siol ; |^, 
demonstrative adjective modifying §idl; ^^], quickly^ 
adverb modifying oj^^cS^- 

In a Karen sentence, therefore — 

(1) An adjective modifier follows the noun which it mod- 

(2) An adverbial modifier stands after the verb and its 
object if it have one ; but — 

(3) An adverbial modifer denoting time may stand at 
the beginning of the sentence. 


23. The Karen language has the nine following parts 
of speech: ^Souns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Verbs, Adverb«, 
Prepositions, Conjunctions, Interjections and Particles. 

24. But it must be understood that the distinction be- 
tween the different parts of speech is by no means so sharp- 
ly preserved in Karen as in English. The same word will 
appear now as this, and now as that part of speech, accord- 
ing to the office it performs in its sentence. Thus, in the 
phrase co^osS^, a big house, 8^ appears as an adjective; in 
u5^8^b, the house is big, §^ appears as a verb; in co^dsco^ 
8^, the big7iess of the house, 8^ forms a noun. 


25. Among the most striking peculiarities of the Karen 
language are its paired words, or couplets. Where the 
English would use a single word to express an idea, the 

12 kjlren grammar. 

Karen often joins two words to express the one idea, thus 
forming a couplet. Sometimes two words of analogous 
signification are united to form a word of slightly different 
meaning from either; sometimes the couplet consists of two 
synonomous words ; sometimes it consists of a significant 
root joined to a root which, out of the couplet, has no 
meaning. Couplets are found among nouns, adjectives, 
verbs, and adverbs. 


26. Kai'en Nouns, like those of all other lanoruagfes, 
can be divided into Common and Proper Nouns. 

27. A proper noun is usually preceded by the name of 
the class to which the individual belongs; e. g., cS'^6\S\, 
B ur via, (^S'^ meanrng country) ; o^ooo^^, Rangoon, (o^ 
meaning city). Names of men are preceded by the particle 
%\ ; e. g., Si^^tS^, Saiv Skive Yaiv. Names of women are 
preceded by the particle ^^ ; e. g., ^SSoos, JS'aiv Hpo Hsi. 

28. Common nouns may be divided into Primitive Nouns 
and Derivative Nouns. 

29. Primitive nouns are roots which are nouns by virtue 
ot their intrinsic signification ; e. g., oc>^, a house, o5S, a 
book, cxj, gold, o^^, an ox. 

30. Derivative nouns are such as are derived from — 
(l) Verbal roots, 

^2) Adjectival roots, 
^3) Other noun roots. 

31. Nouns are formed from verbal roots in the following 
ways — 

(l) Abstract nouns of artion are formed — 

(a) By prefixing the particle ooS to the verbal 
root; c. g., from the root c^i, to go, is formed the 
noun ooScbx, goiv/j, journey. 

>OUNS. 13 

fb) By simply using the verbal root as a noun, 
qualifying it by a demonstrative adjective : e. g., cb\ 
ooSj[^, to go. 

(2) Nouns of agency are formed by prefixing yi, person^ 
to the verb, and at the same time affixing 8 ; e. g., y\cbi 
coS8, a traveller. Sometimes the affix 8 is omitted. 

(3) Instrumental nouns are formed by prefixing |^ to 
the verbal root; e. g., oS, to pcuMle, ^^oS, a paddle. 

(4) Nouns denoting the place tchere an action is per- 
formed are formed by prefixing c8^, place, to the verbal 
root; e. g., «, to sleep, c8S«, a bed. 

32. Nouns are formed trom adjectival roots in the fol- 
lowing ways — 

(1) Abstract nouns of (luality are formed by prefixing 
ooS to the adjectival root; c. (/., c\, good^ 00^9"^) goodness. 

(2) Nouns denoting persons are formed by prefixing to 
the adjectival root the particle o. which is a contraction ot 
yx; e. g., 8^, great, o8^, a rider, literally a great man. 

33. Nouns are formed from other noun roots in the fol- 
lowing ways — 

(1) Diminutives are formed by adding 8, young, little, to 
the noun root; e. g., og^, a dog, ^^8, a little dog, apthppy. 

(2) Gentile nouns, and all nouns expressing residence, 
are formed by affixing 8 to the name of the place ; e. g., 
oS, city, cS8, citizens. The particle yi is generally pre- 
fixed as well; e. g., 6\S\, Burma, yioicSiS, Burinans. 

^3) Two or more noun roots may be combined; r. g., 
coo^, river, S^oj^S^, knee. 

34. Noun couplets are formed by the combination of 
two noun roots, each of which is generally followed or pre- 
ceded by a particle, which serves to connect them; e. g., 
c8^8ico^8i., or c8^8c6^8, birds, oo^ccg^sooS^^, grace, ooSoi 
coSol, goodness, ooo6odc8S, my country, ^8^co\, ymir de- 


scemlents, aouo^oocS, his buildings. In the last three ex- 
amples the connecting particle is a personal pronoun in the 
possessive case. 


35. The Karen language recognizes only natural gender, 
not grammatical gender. 

36. Nouns denoting objects without life are neuter. 
Abstract nouns may also be considered as neuter. 

37. A few nouns ; mostly expresuve of human relation- 
ship, are masculine or feminine by their signification ; e. g., 
o'^, father, SS, mother, 0\, husband, o1, luife, 85gl, iium, 
36<^^, woman. 

38. The great body of names of living creatures are oi' 
common gender; e. g., 8oo^, child, noco^, horse. 

39. The gender of such indeterminate nouns may be dis- 
tinguished by the following affixes — 

85g1, or gl, masculine, applied to human beings. 
85<^^, or t{^, feminine, applied to human beings, 
ol, masculine, applied to animals. 
8^, feminine, applied to animals. 

E. g., 3oo^, child, 8oo^88g1, boy, 8a>^86'«^^, girl; odoj^, 
horse, cooj^csl, stallion, ooc^^SS, nuire. 


40. Karen nouns convey of themselves uo idea of number ; 
e. g., the noun c6^ may mean house or houses. The number 
is ofte i left to be inferred from the context. When, how- 
ever, it i ^ desired definitely to mark the number, this can be 

41. The singular is denoted by the numeral oo, uiie ; e. g,, 
co^ooc^i^, a house. 

NOUNS. 15 

42. The plural may be denoted in the following ways — 

(1) By the use of a numeral adjective; e. g., cofjao^ji^, 
two houses, co^aQlqji^, many houses. 

("2) By any one of the following affixes — 

cct>^, the usual affix; e. g., co^oco^, houses. 

co^, used with the vocative, or with pronouns ; e, g., 
§c^^bSco^(Si, brethren, osbco^, they. 

co^ooo^, used principally with pronouns; e. g., oobc^^ 
co(5^, they. 

coo, coc5^(^, and co^coo^<i^, used occasionally. 

(3) The plural, when used to convey the idea of general- 
ity, is often expressed by a couplet ; e. g., c6^8\2j88\, houses 
or buildings in general. 

(4) cccoSco^ may be used at the end of a sentence which 
has a plural subject ; e. g., Ssc^boj c8^rB§)^90(,jiooorjSco^c8T, 
And they came into the land of Goshen. 


43. Five case constructions may be recognized: Nomina- 
tive, Possessive, Objective, Vocative and Absolute. The 
first three correspond to those of the same name in English, 
and the vocative is the case of direct address. 

44. What is here called the absolute case is peculiar to 
Karen. Its function is to name prominently at the begin- 
ing of the sentence, and thus to emphasize, the person or 
thing about which some statement is made in the remain- 
der of the sentence. 

45. In Karen, as in English, the case of the noun is 
indicated, not by infiection, but by the position of the woisd 
in the sentence. Where this is not sufficient, recourse is 
had to particles. 

46. Regularly, the subject precedes the verb, and the 
object follows it; e. g., d\6\o^pSpob^S\, Saiv Wa builds 


a hotbse. 8i.o1, the subject, precedes the verb, oj^cS^; and 
uD^, the object, follows it. 

4)7. Kareu nouns, like English nouns, are often governed 
by prepositions; e. ij., ooctx^qo'^cncq^, I go to Rangoon- 
Here oScoo^fS is governed by the preposition scj. Nouns 
follow the repositions by which they are governed. 

48. Where in English a verb has two objects, or one 
direct and one indirect object, the Karen may place either 
one as the direct object of the verb, and the other will then 
be governed by the preposition coi ; e.g., where the English 
says, I give Saio \Va a book, the Karen may say, couo^8^ 
o1coio55ooco^, or uoaii^o56oo:Q^coT8T.o1c8\. 

49. In Karen, verbal nouns as well as verbs may take 
objects; e. g , coSob^^i, loue (for^ you. 

50. A noun in the posessive construction i> joined to the 
name of the thing possessed by the particle os ; f. g., '^\o'\ 
03 00^, SoAV Wa's hoiisc. 

o\. A noun in the vocative case is followed by the par- 
ticle 5"\ ; e. (/., 8io1(2i, Saw Wa. 

o2. Substantives in the absolute construction stand first 
in the sentence, free of all grammatical relation thereto, and 
are usually followed by the demonstrative adjective :oi oi" 
^^ ; e. g.. u^^osb^^, 8\o1c^^c8^c8\c8\, That house, Saiv Wa 
hihilt it. Here c6^ is in the absolute construction, followed 
by i^^, tltat. Occasionally the particle §S takes the place 
of the particKi ott. or ^^. More commonly it follows one ot 
them; e. g., co^osb^^SS, 816100 ^c8^ar3\cSi. 


5o. Karen Pronouns are principally Personal, though In- 
terrogative and Indefinite Pronouns exist. 

.54. There are no Relative Pronouns in Karen. Relativo 
rlauses are common : but they are connected witji the noun3 


which they modify by means of the conjunction coi, the 
pronouns used being personal pronouns of the third person. 

55. In Karen, as in English, the personal pronouns are 
declined, tlie cases being marked by case forms. The follow- 
ing tables exhibit the three personal pronouns in their 
various numbers and cases. Gender is not distinguished. 


First Person. 



oo, o 



oo, o 




Second Person. 










Third Person. 











56. The form as for the nominative case of the pronoun 
of the third person is confined to subordinate clauses. In 
principal clauses this pronoun appears in the singular as 
3sb, aoboS, or occasionally oaooS, and in the plural gener- 
ally as osb co^. 

57. After the verb o^, to be, the objective forms of the 
personal pronouns are used instead of the nominative 
forms ; e. g., 9^001081 (not 9Scx>c8x), It is I. 



58. Besides the regular pronouns, the Karen possesses a 
pronominal affix, b. This is affixed to verbs in the third 
person, particularly in subordinate clauses. It is also affixed 
to pronouns of all persons in forming compounds. When 
b follows a verb it is never an object, although it often looks 
like one, but always refers to the subject; e. g.y co^coioo 
q^c^sb^^, ^o6^cS\<2l, The book ivhich the teacher wrote, 
have jon seen itl Here b refers to the subject, ODq^, and 
not to the object, o56. In this construction bo^ is often 
used like b. 

59. The simple forms tabulated under § 55 form a base 
from which a number of pronominal lorms are built up, by 
means of the particles b and o^, the word oooS, self, and 
the demonstrative adjectives, osi, this, and ^^, that. Such 
forms are generally self-explanatory. Their cases are in- 
dicated like those of nouns. For a complete table of all 
the possible forms of the personal pronouns, with exempli- 
fications of their use, the reader is referred to Dr. Wade's 
Karen Vernacular Grammar, pp.34-39. The more com- 
mon forms are noted below. 

Singular. Plural. 

1st p rs. oobo^, obo^ obo^ 

2nd pers. ^bo^, ^o^ ooOo^ 

3rd pers. ^y:>h, osbo^, osbo^ 

60. When used absolutely, the personal pronouns appear 
in the forms noted under §59. The contracted iorms obo^ 
and ^0^ are the ones in common use, the primitive forms 
oobo^ and ^bo^ being seldom met with in this construction. 

61. In the pliral forms the plural affix oo^ niay be 
substituted for the particle o^; e. g., oboj^ niay be sub- 
stituted for obo^. To any form so arising the plural affix 
ooo^ may be added, giving such forms as oaboo^ooo^. 


62. The absolute ionns ol' the pronoun (like the abso- 
lute forms of the noun ^ are generally followed by one of 
the demonstrative adjectives oti and ^p, and sometimes by 
the particle 8S; e. g., dbo^.9!>x, o3bco^ooo^„^,S, "^o^SS. 

63. In the absolute forms, o^ is often omitted; e. g., cb. 
ooc^iooc^oo^, As for me, I cannot go. 

64. In the first and second persons, the objective form 
often takes the place of the proper absolute form ; e. g., ^i, 
^oocjo^obicSi. As for you, you will have to go. 

65. The use of the absolute form is illustrated in the 
following sentences: cbo^03\,oocbiooco-r,^, As for me, I 
cannot go, OQbco^ooo^^^,OQoo^D^:^c:!io^occo^o:o-i:8i, As 
for them, their house is in RangootL 


66. Intensive forms of the per.«-onal pronouns are formed 
by adding to the possessive case the word odoS, or oooSoi, 
self, and the particles o,8b. They are as follows: 

Singular. Plural. 

1st pers. oacooSo^db ocooSo^ob 

oooDoSyio^ob ooooSyio^ob 

2nd pers. ^ooo^o^^ coooo^o^D^b 

^oooSyn^^ conooSy\c^Oob 

3rd pers. oaoooSo^b osoooSo^b 

DsrooSyio^b osoooSyio^b 

67. These forms are used in apposition with a substan- 
tive, for emphasis; e. g., §\o'lo3.")oo^3^bcoc^\c8x, Saw Wa 
himself will go, ooooo\oocooSo^dbc8i, / will do it myself. 

68. The same thing may be indicated by affixing the 
forms o^o5,o^ob, etc. to the verb; e. g., o^oocbaopo:jbc8i, 
You will go yourselves. 


1st pcrs. 


2ad pers. 


3rd pers. 



69. The forms mentioned in § 68, affixed to nouns which 
follow a substantive in the pos-essive, convey the .-ame idea 
as the English word own\ e. g., oooSSo^cb, my oivn hook. 


70. Reflexive forms of the personal pronouns are formed 
by affixing to the possessive case the word oos. ■■^elf. They 
are as follows — 


J oos 


71. These forms are used as che objects of verbs, whea 
the person affected by the action is the same l s the person, 
performing it; e.g., 8idlc8Sc8x30cosc8i, Saw Wa beats 
fiiviself. These forms always appear as direct objectives, 
while the intensive ibrms previously described are generally 
used in apposition. An intensive pronoun, however, some- 
times takes the place of a proper reflexive. 

72. The Pronoun ool may also be classed among the re- 
flexives. It takes the place of the personal pronoun of 
the third person in indirect discourse, referring to the 
speaker; e. g., 8xol6?coTOcnooc^c8i. San: Wo says tJuit he 
{Savj Wa) will coiiv. 


73. The possessive pronouns mine, thine, etc. are formed 
by affixing b or coS to the possessive forms of the personal 
pronouns ; e. g., osb^^uSoob, agbj^^SooooS. That is miTie. 

74. b and ooS may be similarly used with nouns in the 
possessive case; e. g., oob^^w^SioloobcSi. or oabj^^oSSiol 
oocoScSx, That is Saw Wa's. 



75. Properly speaking, the Karen language has no de- 
monstrative pronouns. Their place is supplied, however, 
by combining the demonstrative adjectives, osi, this, and 
^^, that, with the personal pronoun of the third person; 
osboSi, this, oab^^, that. 


76. The interrogative adjectives described in i^§]01, 102 
are used also ns interrogative pronouns ; e. (/., ^oio^xc^^. 
What are you doing? ^oc^«oo^ooo^cb^ Whom do you see? 
coicoSscc^^^^^ob^Ss^c^^aDaj^cb^, Which of the two books do 
you wish? 

77. The interrogative possessive pronoun, ivhose, is 
formed by affixing osb or osooS to the interrogative 
pronoun oooi; e. g., c\58a^bcrJ^'JSoOT^a^bcb^, Whose is this 
book ? 


78. ooS is used as the subject of impersonal verbs; e. y.. 
ooSc^^\c8i, It rains. 

79. o\ or coS is often used as an indefinite subject to a 
verb in the third person singular, when we do not know, 
or do not wish to express, the subject of the verb; e, g., 
00 S (or yi") cBSo8icS\, Somebody heat him. 

80. yt is often used indefinitely in the objective case, 
to express people in general. 

81. ooS is used as an indefinite object to verbs which 
require one, but to which no definite object can be assigned ; 
e. g., oocc^ooScSi, / see, literally, / see things. 

82. oai and wooi are sometimes used as indefinite 
pronouns: e. g., ocoxco n\thS\, A certain person cam£. 


83. Man*' of the iadefinite adjectives described under 
^5 99 are also used as indefinite pronouns; e. g., ^«Sc»^cB^ 
g^Ssg-ilSoDicoiooco^ooncS, 7/ 2/ou see an?/ ducks, buy nie 


84. ilost of the roots which in English would be regarded 
as essentially adjectival in their signification, are in Karen 
considered as verbs. Under this head come all the roots 
expressive of (quality; e. g., the rciot o\, expressive of 
goodness, means, not good, but to be good. So with many 
roots expressive of quantity ; e. g., S^ means, not great, but 
to be great. And such words are constanth^ used as verbs, 
the verbal meaning being the primitive one. 


85. Adjectives ot" (juality are really adjective (relative) 
clauses in an abbreviated form. "A good man'' would 
originally be expressed by yicoioaoi, a inxan that is good. 
But it is commonly expressed in an abbreviated form, 
y\03o\, the relative conjunction, coi. being omitted. It 
is sometimes still further abbreviated by omitting the 
pronoun oo, when it would stand simply yvo\. 


86. Adjectives of quantity in mass are largely expressed 
by abln-eviated relative clauses, like adjectives of quality ; 
e. r/., c6^c»8^, a great Jiouse. " 

87. Some adjectives expressive of magnitude are formed 
by prefixing the pnrticle ess to verbal roots. Such ad- 
jectives immediately follow the nouns which they modify ; 
e. 7 , o5^os8^, a great hoivse. 



88. The following table shows the cardinal numerals. 























00 CO 001 






3 30 



• • 






J oo 







00 no CO: 










JS. g., 13,297,652 would be written opjglSjj and read 
oooo c8coT (T) c^S 5ooc8\goDco s^oocSooooooiobS so 3. 

89. A numeral adjective almost invariably follows the 
noun which it modifies, and is itself followed by an aux- 
iliary word expressing some quality of the noun to which 
it refers; e. g., y\30\, tzvo men. oi is a numeral affix used 
in speaking of rational beings. ogScoS;^, /our dogs. ^ is 
a numeral affix used in speaking of quadrupeds. 


90. The following table, adapted from a similar one in 
Mason's Karen grammar, gives a list of numeral affixes 
with a statement of their uses, and examples. 

oo^jS, applied to things in bundles; e. g., o56oooo(^|% 
a book. 

00001, applied to things conceived of as existing in a 
successive series ; e. g., oo^oooooi, txvo blankets. 

cocr^t, applied to things conceived of as existing in thin 
laminae; e. g., osSSooocIjs, ttvo sheets of paper. 

ooqi, applied to companies of persons or animals ; e. g., 
coSc38^§^oooDqi, a church. 

coS\, applied to plots of ground; ^. g., 65<xco8t., a Held. 

o^^, applied to logs, felled trees etc. ; e. g., aj^ooo^^, 
a log of ii;ood. 

3l, applied to traps and snares; e. g., cxjcxsH, a trap. 

S^, applied to things conceived as proceeding from one 
head ; e. g. o^ooS^, a bamboo tree. 

S, applied to sides of things; e. g., t^oS, tivo hands. 

o\, applied to rational beings ; e. g., occossoa, tuv angels. 
y\cx)^ODioi, three men. 

^, applied to vehicles ; e. g.^ co^sdB, two carts. 

S^, applied to the eyes, and to laroe seeds; e. g., o\^ 
s|3c8^, tivo jack fruit seeds. 

c8\, applied to things occurring at intervals; e. g., o55 
SajoocSi, a chapter of the Bible. 

00!, ap))lied to trees; e. g., ooSsco^odtoos, three mango 

c6^, applied to words or senten<,'es; e. g., oo^ooc8iooo6^. 
a word, a saying. 

cxj^, applied to trees, posts, etc.; '^ g., co^ooo^ooioj^. 
three teak posts. 

OT, applied to bird's nests, e. g.. c8^coco6oi, two bird'ti 


q, applied to quadrupeds; e. g., cooo^h^, two horses. 

^.applied to bamboos and small trees; e, g., o^oo^, 
one bamboo. 

8, applied to leave< of the palm .ind plantain families; 
e. g., cococo^ooB, a plantain leaf. 

(^\, applied to places ; e. g., 33c8Soo(^i, a place. 

8s or 8s, applied to flowers; e. g., Sooiaj^s'Ss, two roses. 

<^ applied to large bodies of men and animals ; e g., 
cSstj, two flocks of sheep. 

<{, applied to felled trees; e. g., oo^ooo^oocj, a teak log. 

(^t^, applied to things conceived of as spherical; e. g., 
ooSsoo^coS(5]i^, tvjo mangoes. 

^, applied to openings; e. g., b(§3(^, tivo doors. 

cop, applied to things conceived of as flat ; e. g., 280005^, 
a fowl. 

:8, applied to things conceived of as cylindrical ; e. g., 
q^ODic8, three snakes. 

S, applied to blows, words and sentences; e. g., ooSooc8i 
ooc8s)c8, a word or txvo. 

«i, applied to things referred to in an indefinite manner ; 
e. g., ooSowioDiwi, two or three things. 

ooS, applied to songs and poems: e. g., ooSodso^sojS, 
two songs. 

c6S applied to places ; c. g., 66cnc8^, a Jidd. 

91. There are a number of words denoting portions, 
quantities or collections, which are used in a similar manner 
to the numeral auxiliaries ; e. g., ooooogs, adrink of ivater, 
oSsodS^, two bunches of rattans, 030600b, a handful of 

92. When there is no numeral atiix proper to a noun, 
and sometimes even when there is a numeral afSx which 
might be used, the noun itself is repeated after the numeral ; 


e. g., :^(^%cnS<^^, «. kingdom. c8Soo:??^, or c8^ooc8S, a 

93. Sometimes there is a choice of numeral aflSxes for 
the same noun ; e. g., ^Sooc8^, or (ii5coc^i^, an eye. 

94. Numerals are sometimes pretixed to the nouns which 
they modify ; e. ^., ooo6^cOjSoo<J3^, /rom house to house, 
SdSooioS, two or three days. 

95. The numeral affixes regularly follow the numerals 
with which they stand. But when the numeral is ten or 
a multiple of ten, the affix precedes the numeral, and is 
itself preceded by the particle ao ; e. g., Sxosoaooso, twenty 

96. The formarion of the ordinal numerals will easily 

W understood from the following examples — 

a3S^o5sooo\ , first ( vum ) ; ooS^oSs means beginning. 
DsS^cfscoov tirst {thing). 
3 0X0001, secoTul (man) 

coiotocoi, third (thing). 

eg S ^00 9, fourth (quadruped). 

97. The ordinal adjectives t»d8ooooiS, fii'st, and toooo 
ooiS, ^^s^ arc excepriorial in their formation. See §112. 

98. Multiplicatives are formed by affixing o: to the 
cardinal numerals; p. g., aos, tuvfold. 


99. The mnneral affixes form the basis of a number 
ol common idioms expressing ideas of number or quantity. 

(I) Certain indefinite numeral adjectives are combined 
with the numeral auxiliiries, in the same manner as the 
cardinal numerals. These are osl, many, Cj\, few, and 
cozr^li^ several: e. g., ytoaloa, many men: OTScoc^i^idB. 
ten: words. 


Y2) The numeral oo, owe, with an appropriate ; umeral 
affix, often has the sense of the English indefinite article; 
€. g., co^oocsji^, a house. 

Y3) The numeral co, one, with a reduplicated numeral 
affix is used in referring indefinitely to one person or thing ; 
e. </. , yxoooxoi, sovie man, coSco^q, some elephant. 

(4) The indefinite adjective of quantity, oo'^i, some, is 
formed from the numeral 00 by means of the particle §\. 

(5) The reduplicated form oo'^i^x, is used in referring 
indefinitely to more than one person or thing ; y^oo^if ^, 
som£ men, cvdSoo^x^i, so-me books. 

(6) In a similar way are formed oobs, cobsbs, (i little, 
oobsp51 and ooc^gl, a great deal. 

(7) Universality is expressed by placing a numerial 
auxiliary between 00 and coScoS; e. g., yioooicoScoS. every 

(8) The same idea is expressed by placing a numeral 
auxiliary between c8s and bs ; e. g., cB^rBsco^bs every bird. 

(9) Completeness is expressed by placing a numeral 
affix between % and p51 ; f. rj., cB^S^Bo^^^l. the tvhole 

(10) A complete number may be expressed by affixing 
cQS, CDiS or pal to any one of the ordinal numerals; e. g., 
coioicSS, ooiotcoiS, ooio\^1, oil three (nien). 

(11) Singularity is expressed by placing the numeral 
00 with a suitable affix between db and 2\; e. g., dfeoooiS'i. 
only one (man\ 

(12) Identity is expresst^d by placing the numeral affix 
between 00 and zB ; e. g., cnScow^8^B, the saxne house. 

ri3) Utter non-existence of a thing is expressed by 
affixing a numeral auxiliary to foo ; e. g., co5ooo8^^d0 36^ 
00^, There is not a single book 


100. Certaiu other inderiuite adjectives ot' quantity are 
formed independently of the numeral system. Such are — 

ico-\5, ^coi5^oo. all, which follows its noun ; e. g., y\bcoi5, 
all r)ien. 

c8^\, every, which generally precedes its noun. The 
noun may be followed by the number one, and th'is may in 
turn be followed by coScoS ; c. 7., cg^iyi. d8^iy\coo^. 
c8q^y\cootcoScoS, every r)ian. 

«^o^, whoever, or whatever, which precedes its noun ; e. .(/.. 
^o^y\, ivhatever mxtn. 


101. The common interrogative adjectives are «coi. 
referring to persons, and y^\, referring to things; e. g., 
^idSsODq^ooDicb^, With tvhat teacher did you come? as^^ 
8«o8^OT\co^«^icb^, M' hat fruit do you wit^h to eat? ocoi 
and o^i are often followed by ooqi- ■-^^'^^^ oo«\ respectively ; 
e. g,, coq^wooioooic^^. 

102. An interrogative adjective with a selective force 
IS formed by prctixing ^ob^ to the ordinal numeral od, one, 
which is in its turn tollowed by the appropriate numeral 
affix; <i. g., ^3b^8scoS^db^ooco^(^^, Which book do you 
luinh ? 

103. Interrogative adjectives of (Quantity are made by 
prefixing sog to indeiinite adjectives of quantity; e <j., 
a6j8^, hoiv great, sosdsI, how much, hovj many, ^^cS^cos 
oslc^^, Ifoiv much nww.y have you? These are used both 
in direct and indirect discourse. In indirect discourse thev 
sometimes suffer reduplication; r. r/., ooo^^cojosI cososlc^^ 
IiSodooodS^Idd^, / do not knotv hoiu much money I have. 

104. Interrogative adjectives of number may be formed 
by prefixing ^v or 91 to the umeral affix ; e. g., c^odcx^i 
^loic^^, How mi.,vj of you, will go? These also niav bo- 
used in indirect discourse. 



105 The Karen language has two definite demonstra- 
tive adjectives, oqx, 03 03\, this, and ^p, 03^^, that. They 
may modify any substantive element, be it noun, pronoun, 
phrase or clause, 

106. ^p, and occasionally sqi, is used to mark the end 
ot" a noun clause, or of a series.of adjectival modifiers of a 
noun;e. g., yioosySoaoicoiosc^^bsSsbcoiO^ooo^^osc^xcooi^^, 
The good old man who lives in Rangoon. 

107. 5^ is often used with the force of a definite article. 

108. ^^ is commonly used in referring again to some- 
thing which has just been mentioned. 


109. Adjectival couplet- are afiixed to the nouns which 
they modify. Such a couplet consists of two adjective- 
verbal roots, each of which is preceded by the particle oa 
e. g., yioonioool, a good man. 


110. The comparative degree is expressed by affixing 
ooooS to the adjective; e. g., o\, good, oioooj^, better. 

111. T\Tiere the object of comparison is expressed, the 
adjective is followed by ^S instead of oocoS \ e. g., oi^Soot, 
better than I. In such cases, the object of comparison is 
generally followed by oooiS : c. g., ox^SooiooooS, better 
than I. 

112. The superlative degree is formed by affixing ooooiS 
or orjS to the adjective ; e. g., oxooooiS or <;i.ajS, best. 



113. Karen verbs express actions, states or qualities; 
e, g., cbi, to go, ^^, to be, o\, to be good. 

114. Karen verbs may be divided into transitive and 
ip transitive verbs. Many verbs which in English are re- 
garded as intransitive, in Karen are regarded as transitive, 
and take an object; e. g., the verb c^\, to go, is often used 
with the object ooS. 

115. In Karen, a verb which can take an object gener- 
ally does take one. When no defiiiite object can be as- 
signed, the indefinite object oo^ is frequently used; e. g., 
oocDpco"^, I see. See §81. 

116. Karen verbs have no inllections, properly so called. 
The accidents of voice, mood, tense, person and number, 
are expressed by particles connected with the verb, or are 
left to be inferred from the subject. 


117. Three voices may be recognized in Karen; Active, 
Passive and Middle. 

118. The verb in its simple and primitive form is in 
the active voice; e. g., in the sentence oooS^^xcSx, I see you, 
o6^ is in the active voice. 

119. The formation of the passive voice is peculiar. A 
few examples will make it clearer than any explanation. 

The following -entences exhibit the passive of the verb 

oorJ^ooSco^oD-icSi, I am seen. 

^a)^oo^c6^^\c8i, You are seen. 

8\o1co^oo^c6^'j8ic8i.. Saw W a is seen. 

120. In the last sentence, §io1 is the subject, oo^, 
encountered, the predicate, co^cc^, the seeing, the object 
of ooj), and g8i the object of the verbal noun ooSco^. 

VERBS. 31 _ 

121. Occasionally, in the above mentioned form of the 
passive voice, the reflexive pronouns oooos, ^oax, oaoos, etc., 
take the place of the simple personal pronouns. 

122. When it is desired to convey the idea that the 
subject voluntarily submits to an action, the passive voice 
is differently expressed. In this case, the verbal root is 
preceded by 8s or 05 S and followed by a reflexive pronoun; 
e. g , oo9«c35^oooos, 1 arn seen, I permit onyself to be seen. 
8t.o1o^So5^oqoos, Saw Wa is seen, submits to being seen, 

123. Closely allied to this second form of the passive 
voice is a form used to convey the idea that a thing is in 
a certain .state as the result of an action which has been 
performed upon it; e. g.^ co^Sf^cbtcooos, It is written. 

124. The middle voice expresses the idea that the sub- 
ject performs an action upon himself. To express this the 
active form of the verb is followed by the particle c8i, and 
a reflexive pronoun ; e. g., §io1oo^c:Si030ds, Saw Wa sees 


125. There are only two moods hi lvar(ui, the Indicative 
and the Imperative. 

126. The primitive form of the verb is indicative. 

127. The primitive form of the verb may be used in 
the imperative ; e. g., sijS, Run. 

128. When a verb is in the imperative mood the sen- 
tence (if expressing a command) commonly ends with the 
particle oooiiS ; e. g., tq'^cocQ'^, Run, c^acjoocS^oooiS, Corru^ 
to me. 

123. The particles co^ and 06 are sometimes afiixed to 
the verb in an imperative sentence where the idea is that 
of entreating a superior; e. g., sS^oisS^olcoSyioooiS, Llesn 


130. la giving permission, oo^^S or co^^S sometimes 
takes the place of ooo^S ; e, g., cbxco'^'^S, Go. 

131. A sentence expressing a prohibition ends in oooi ; 
e. g., c^iOToi^ Bo not go. In such cases the verb may be 
preceded by ocj and the negative particle oo ; e. g., a^ooc^t 
ooox, Do not go. 

132. A precative sentence is introduced by the particle 
<S and otherwise has the form of a sentence expressing 
command or prohibition ; e. g., Soc^iooojS, Let us go, (Soo^ 
ooc^xooox, Let ivs not go. 


133. The verb standing by itself conveys no idea of 
time. It may refer to past or present time according to 
the context. E. g., uoc^tcSx may mean I go, I am going, 
or / iverd. 

134. An action the puriormance of which is contem- 
[)lated, is expressed by prefixing the particle oo to the 
verb. This form is commonly used to express a future 
action ; r. (/., oococbx, I shall go, I tvill go. 

135. The idea of intention or desire is brought out 
more strongly by prefixing ocH to oo ; e. g.. %\d]oSicocb\S\, 
Saw Wa desires to go, intends to go, 

136. Completed action is indicated by affixing the par- 
ticle c\5 to the verb; e. g., coobico, / have gone. 

137. The same idea is more emphatically expressed by 
introducing 6\ before co ; e. g., uocbxoxci. 

1 38 The Karens sometimes use both oo and o5 with 
the same verb to express an intention to perform an action 
immediately; e. g., ooocob^co, L loill go at once. 

139. To murk the completion of an action previous to 
a certain moment of past time, o-jS is affixed to the verb, 
and is often followed by c6 ; e. g., ooooJjisc^OJOO^Siosbo^ 

VERBS. 33 

o^xojSoS, Before I came he had returned. This usage is 
analogous to the English pluperfect. 

140. An action dependent upon a supposed condition 
contrary to fact is sometimes expressed by prefixing co to 
the root and affixing o^S or ooSo5 ; e. g., ^oSooobcxD^Ssooro 
cbiojSoJcSi, If you had not come I should have gone by 
this time. 


141. The person and number of the verb are to be 
inferred from those of the subject : but a verb in the third 
person sometimes takes b after it ; e. g., ^xoxfhhSx, The 
king comes. 


142. Besides the simple verbs, each of which consists as 
a rule of a single syllable, there are compound verbs formed 
by combining simple verbs with particles, or with other 

143. A verbal couplet is formed of two verbal roots, each 
of which is followed by a particle; e. g., isjSojif5o5t, to 
believe, 8^c8^c8c8^, to groiu up, sosc^i^xcSi, to decrease, 
«ic8^tnc8i, to direct, Sbsgb, to be holy. 

144. The Karen language possesses a number of par- 
ticles which are combined with simple verbs to make new 
verbs of kindred signification. Many of these particles 
were originally verbal roots, and are sometimes used as 
verbs; but in the connection under discussion they are to 
be considered as particles. 

145. The following particles are prefixed to the verb — 
c8^, prefixed to a few verbs, has a causative force ; e. g., 

cB^bt, to stir up. 

sjs has a permissive or causative force; e. g., ^tcbx, to 
dismiss, to send. 
G 3 


o5 denotes a representing of the action as if done, often 
only in appearance; e. g., o5o5oooo», to assume the ap- 
pearance of death. 

St, prefixed to a few verbs, has a causative force; e. g., 
:8:co^oj^^1, to inform. 

«i has a causative force; e. g., «io5, to kill. 

S\, prefixed to verbs with the negative, indicates that 
the act is performed imperfectly, or in a slight degree ; e. g., 
00 CO cSicD^gl CO ^, / scarcely knoiv. 

cSi indicates that the subject falls into the state indica- 
ted by the verb ; e. g., S\a^i, to become tired. 

cSi has also a causative force; e. g., cSifi, to 'make one 

6^, prefixed to a few verbs, has a causative force; e. g., 
o^aoiooi^, to raise up. 

oo^ has a permissive or causative force; e. g„ oo^aolcS^, 
to vacrease (transitive). 

146. The following particles are affixed to the verb — 

oool has a sense of return, retaliation or opposition ; e. g., 
ojioDolcoi, to return. 

coo^, or oo3^oot5, has a concessive force; e. g., oSooo^ 
8|^^c8\, admitting it to be so, ^6gco^^^«^oDO^ooiS, admit- 
ting the truth of what you say, 

oD§s indicates that the same action has been performed 
before; e. g., ODgo^roSs, sing again. 

cQ\ indicates returning, or repetition of an action, or 
the performance of an action which there had been a pre- 
vious unwillingness to perform; e. g., o^o^x, come back, 
^5oj)\, believe. 

co^ indicates that the act is performed by way of trial ; 
e. g., utnoS, to try, oj^cgS, to taste. 

VERBS. 35 

c§S denotes that the action results in a separation; e.g., 
o5oo6, to 'put away. 

iJoS denotes that the action results in making secure ; 
e. g., oizo6, to tie. 

exjS denotes that several persons or things act together; 
e. g., cbxtqS, to go together. 

zS\ denotes that the act is done straight forward, liter- 
ally or" figuratively; e. g., cgSs^Si, to look of. 

8 indicates that the action is performed from au eleva- 
tion ; e. g., f^^8, to look o^' (as from a height). 

on denotes that the action is performed by way of 
assistance; e. g., oocooSoii^i, / will help you paddle. 

s8 denotes that an act is done before some event takes 
place; e. (/., 06^28, to see before. 

coo^, affixed to verbs in the negative, indicates that 
the action is imperfectly or slightly performed; e. g., 
ooco^ScooScQ^, I do not put much faith in it. 

cqx denotes that the action results in arriving ; c, g., 
fhcq\, to arrive. 

CD^ shows that the action is hastened; e. g., t^coSo^scbs, 
Coine along quickly. 

c^8 is affixed to a few words denoting separation ; e. g., 
cSiobS, to fall off. 

cB^ indicates self-originated action; e. g., TOboocbicS^ 
o^ooS, He luill go of his own accord. Occasionally it 
denotes certainty ; e. g., co^oooicS^o^oooosS^^cSi, It will 
be sure to happen so. 

c8 indicates an upward motion; e. g., cb\S, to go up, 
c8^ indicates an upward motion, literal or figurative; 
e. g., c^icB^, to ascend, £»1c8^, to increase. It often de- 
notes incipient action; e. g., S^Sp, to come into being. 


o^ iadicates independent action ;e. g., oocouio^db, I ivill 
do it myself. 

o^cyDooiS, or o^coc86, indicates that the subject defers 
some other action to perform the one indicated by the verb ; 
e. g., g8^8so^ooc8S, Wait a bit, uoooo8^o^ooooi6«t, / ivill 
eat rice first. 

^S indicates that the action results in obtaining ; e. g., 
00^^^, to find. 

^^ indicates that the action results in observing ; e. g., 
aj^i^, to reiiiember. 

u6, or o6oT>.j indicates that the action is done before 
some other event ; e. g., oso6, 6so5on, to promise, to foretell. 

oi^ indicates that the action reaches unto its object ; 
e. g., cb\oiS, to go uvto. 

tjs denotes that the act was done unintentionally, c8s'-^s, 
to utter an involuntary cry. 

^ indicates that the action results in going through ; 
e. g., obxt^, to go through. 

cot indicates that the action results in an ascent; e. g., 
cB^oos, to ascend. 

co^ indicates that the action passes over onto an object , 
e g., uocoot)cc^a8i, / ivill tell him. 

cxji denotes that the act is performed by way of assist- 
ance ; e. g., ooso^aji; to sing together vjith one. 

c8 indicates that the act is performed by or for imita- 
tion ; e. g., c8^c8, to teach, «\c8, to learn. 

c8S indicates reciprocal action; e. g., S^^SbSQisob^cS^ 
aacos, Brothers should love one another. 

S\ indicates a downward motion, literal or figurative ; 
e. g., cbicSi, to descend, g\c8i, to decrease. 

oorB; denotes that several persons or things act in com- 
pany ; <?. g., obioorBs, to go together. 

VERBS. 37 

ooogt indicates that the act is performed from a distance ; 
copooggT-) io behold afar off. 

coo^ indicates that the action results in forsaking; e. g., 
cb\02op, to forsake. 

08 indicates an incipient action; e. g., cqaoobo^AcSS^ 
o\SiP, when he had just become king. 

ccj^ denotes that the action is done carefully or stealthily ; 
e. (/., cgStxj^, to watch closely. 


147. A verb depending on another follows it immediate- 
ly, without undergoing any change of form ; e. g., oooootg: 
on8o\o8ic8i, / ivill try to do it. This is the common con- 
struction for expressing suitibility, necessity, etc.; e. g., 
aobo^^isobcS^, He should come, oooo^uoscSa, 1 must go. 

148. Where in Englis-h two verbs are connected by the 
conjunction and, in Karen the second verb may immediate- 
ly follow the first, without a conjunction ; e. g., odoo<^\ 
a:^!]Sic8\, I ivill go and seek it. 


149. The causative verb on and the permissive verb t:j] 
permit the dependent verb to be preceded by a subject; 
e. g., t^oocbicoojS, Let me go, ooboioocbiooScSi, He caused 
ine to go. The dependent verb and its subject may be 
regarded as a substantive clause, forming the object of the 
causative or permissive verb. 

150. Verbs expressing ability stand at the end of the 
sentence (or clause) preceded by the verb expressing the 
act in question, with its subject, and object if it have one; 
e. g., cO(s:o55c9cSi, / can read. The verb and its subject 
may be regarded as a substantive clause forming the sub- 
ject of the verb of ability. 


151. The foUowiug list exhibits the common verbs of 
ability, with their meanings, and examples of their use, 

09, ability considered with reference to skill, also the 
generic expression of ability ; e. g., cocba«\c8ooSoocr^§suot3s 
cy5So}cSt, / went to school once, and I can read. 

ch, ability considered with reference to physical health, 
or inclination; e. g., ooS^aol, (jocosc85cb?corbco^. My head 
aches, I cannot go to walk. 

^S, ability considered with reference to effectiveness of 
effort ; e. <;., (^saD«^s8^§scoSoi, oocIc^ico^^od^, The car- 
penter has u'ork, I cannot hire him. 

sgi t, ability considered with reference to leisure ; e. g., 
cx)00^«ic8oo^bo^\, oocosc8Sc^soo^[sco^, I must study noiv, 
I cannot go to iccdk. 

cop, ability considered with reference to accomplishing 
the end proposed ; e. g., oSSaoboSioScocon, oocssooco^oo^, 
This book is Talaing, I cannot recul it. 

^\, ability considered with reference to the sufficiency 
of the subject ; e. g., coSo\oolob^^8.oou\co^^co^, The U'ork 
is too great, I canriot do it. 

152. The ideas of suitability, agredj>oleness etc., are 
otten expressed in a similar manner to that of potentiality ; 
<"• g., ^9gooaj^02^(sl, Dare you ride a horse? ooBsodsS 
co^Soo^, I do not like to ride an elephant, ocbiODloo^oooi 
oo^cl, Had we not better go to uvrship? coyiciBoicxDcSS 
QncSssI, Is it proper for me to buy a silk jacket .'' 

1.53. The verb 8^, expressing desire, takes 00^ for its 
subject, and is followed by a verb denoting that act the 
performance of which is desired. This latter verb is fol- 
lowed by 03?, self, with the possessive case of a pronoun 
denoting the person who desires to perform the action. 
Then comes tlie object of the verb of action, generally 
introduced by coi ; e. g., ooSS^c5Soocoscot^\c8i, / want 


to see you, ooG|^i^^oo^2^^\0300so55ooo5^c8i, The teacher 
wishes to buy a hook. 
• 154. Possessioa is expressed by the verb s8^, to be, in 
the three following ways — 

(1) The possessor stands as the subject, and the thing 
possessed follows the verb, with which it is connected by 
the preposition %%, e. g., 0028^830560005^, I have a book, 

(2) Or possessor and thing possessed may change places ; 
e. g., c\58ooco^g8^§sooi, I have a book. 

(3) Or the thing possessed, modified by the possessive 
case of a noun or a pronoun denoting the possessor, may 
stand as the subject of the verb; e. g., ooo56ooo5^o8^b, 
/ have a book. 


155. Karen adverbs are mostly derived from other roots, 
though a few strictly adverbial roots exist. 


156. Adverbs of manner are regularly formed by dupli- 
cating adjective roots; e. g., sjjq], swiftly, sxjj^ajiB, strongly. 

lo7. Adverbs so formed very commonly take the affix 
cocb6 , e. g.j scj^sxj^cot^S. 

158. Sometimes an adjectival root is used iu an adver- 
bial sense. This is commonly the case when it is itself 
modified by another adverb ; e. g., 8io1yoSs|ios, Saiv Wa 
runs very fast, oab^o^cosjjco^, He runs not siuiftly. 

159. Some adverbs of manner are formed from verbal 
roots by means of the affixes coco8, and coco5 ; c. g., c^^ 
cocoS, silently, eSoocoS, still. 

160. Occasionally adverbs of manner are formed by pre- 
fixing (3^ to an adjectival root; e. g , s^oi., v.:ell. 

161. Many adverbs of manner are irregular iu their 
formation; e. g., cSoocSt, openly, cSioiScSidbs, exactly^ 


162. Demonstrative adverbs of manner are formed by 
combining the preposition S, like, with the demonstratives 
D31 and jf^, or with cb^ ; e. g., Soai, BroioscSs, S|^, S^^aocSs,* 
thus, Scb^, how, SosiS^i, somehoiu. See § 202. 


163. Adverbs of place may be formed from the demon- 
strative adjectives 03\ and |^ in combination with the 
prepositions *>, coi and aj. They are exhibited in the 
following table. 

;iD3\, here, t>^^, there, bcb^, ivhere, ^c^\'b^\, here aind 

coi93\, here, coijf^, there, cotcbp, ivhere, whence, coiof>i 
coi^\, here and there. 

ajost, hither, ajjf^, thither, scjcb^, ivhither, ajosistj^i, 
hither and thither. 

164. The prepositions cot and atj form adverbs of place 
in combination with such roots as g51, front, b, back, cos, 
above, coS, beloiu, oS, and cor, beyond, and 8, side; e. g., 
sc^^ , forivard, cois, behind, cotcojS, beyond. 


165. Certain adverbs denoting past time are formed by 
the prenx « (or ;jS) in combination with roots denoting 
time, as follows — 

wooiS, «rB5, jiLst now, "j 

oxH, to-day, \ with verbs of past time. 

«8\, this morning, j 

«^T, ia*'i night. 
uuol, yesterday. 

uoDiScoc^, wcBScoo^. Zct«i iinic (in the immediate past). 
(.ilqplcoc^, ^asi tiwe (in the more remote past). 


wcolo?^, last week. 
olooloog, „ 
. o col 00 col, last month. 
ulcoloocol, „ „ 
wclco^^, last year. 

166. Adverbs expressing future time may be formed 
in two ways — 

(l) By the prefix h, as follows — 

hds\, ^oo^^OTi, noiv^ denoting the immediate future, or 
the present, 

^«3ol, to day, "j 

^«(jo1, this evening^ \ with verbs of future time. 

^«^\, to nighty j 

^8i, to-morroiv. 

^ooBi, the day after to-raorrow. 

hS^, in the future. 

hSScoz^, next time. 

^rBSoDJ, next week. 

hSScocS[, next month. 

hSScoijP, next year. 

(2) By the use of the prepositions coi and aj. Cf. §164- 
The most common of these are — 
COT a, CO IS COT, afterward.s. 
atjDDl, sxjgilS, i/4 the future. 
o^\D3i3(jg1, henceforth. 

167. COT is prefixed to some temporal adverbs when the 
idea of futurity is not implied; e. g., conc^SaolS, hy day, 
coicgncoioooTi, of old. 

168. Another class of temporal adverbs is formed by 
using temporal nouns like numeral auxiliaries, as follows — 

ODoo^icqiTi, all day. 
DScD^\oq]\T, all night. 


ojojoo^x. daily. 

cScSoo^i, nightly. 

§^\^n, all day, (similarly §ft^, ? jgil , etc). 

r83(;i^S^i^s, every day, (similarly rBs^^^ibs, rSsjbg etc). 

169. Many adverbs of time are not formed in accord 
with any law ; e. g., ^ooos, quickly, c8c8, always. 

170. The roots os, still, yet, and con, any more, are 
adverbial by virtue of their intrinsic signification. The 
following examples will illustrate their use : odsBccS^cot 
oooocb\osoocr:j)[so^c^i, 7 thinl- I shall still go several times, 
osbooubosco^, He has not yet come, oo^oocS^conoo^, I 
have no more money. 


171. Adverbs denoting how many times are formed 
from the cardinal numerals, in combination with the affix 
c?^ or «^ ; c. g., ooc^, once, so^, tivice, ooitj, thrice. 

172. c^ and q are treated like numeral auxiliaries, and 
may enter into all the combinations of which numeral 
auxiliaries are capable; e. g., coz^S, sivndtaneously. at 
once, ooc^c^, co«^{^, sometimes, S'^c'^^z, every time, cx)i«^gDl, 
as many as tliree times. 

173. Adverbs denoting v:hich time are formed like ordi- 
nal numerals; c. g., osS^ooscoc^, the nrst time, scf^ooc^, 
the second time. 

174. The particles c^ and c^ enter into certain irregular 
formations ; e. g., cq\^\coi^. c:J^;^^.ooc^. tJtcn. 


175. Some adverbs of degree are formed like the adverbs 
of manner described iu sjvJloG and 157 ; ''. g., 3^9^oocb5, 
greatly, kIosIcoc^S, much. 


176. The iadefiaite numeral adjectives described in § 99, 
(4), (6), (13), are often used with an adverbial force ; e. g., 
ooooJi^^cB^f cobsoo^, I do not like it a hit. 

177. The following adverls are intensive: «j, ooi, ^s 
(used with adjectives denoting disagreeable sensations), 
and (^^ (used with adjectives denoting smallness or 

178. A moderate degree is expressed by coupling two 
contradictory roots, each of which is modified by a nega- 
tive ; e. g.; ooS^oososco^, coooloogioo^, moderately. 

179. Other adverbs of degree are irregularly formed ; 
e. g., coiooojx, not at all (with negatives), to^tjo^, about, 
rhpSi, too. 


180. Equality is expressed by BdSsdSs, equally; e. g., 
oobo^^^oiS6i(j§i§sy\oo^Sc8sc88c8i, He understands Bur- 
mese and Karen equally, 03b3^ODc8i6^c8iSc8sc8s§syioD^ 
c8x, He speaks Burmese equally ivith Karen. 

181. Inequality is expressed by a combination of two 
contradictory roots expressive of quantity ; e. g., ooq^ooQis 
o^^^S^sososlgiyioicSoo^Soo^, A teacher should not judge 
his iJupils unequally. 


182. Interrogative adverb- of time and place may be 
formed from the interrogative particle cb^ ; e. g., bob^, 
luhere, u-hen, coiob^, u'here, ivhence, oqcb^, vshither. 

183. These are reduplicated in indirect discourse ; e. g., 
3obc^coic^^coicb^.^^coc^co::o^co^, I can not tell v-hence 
he comes. 

184. Interrosfative adverbs of quantity are formed by 
prelixing aSs to adjectives of quantity; e. g.. cososl, o5s8^, 
how much. 


185. These are idso repeated in indirect discourse; e. g., 
oo ob ^ o8i CO g 9o1 so sotflc^^^^ 000^000900^, / cannot tell how 
mAJbch 1 like it. 

186. The interrogative adverb of reason is oo^w^i, lohy? 
e. g., oo^«^icoi^oocbTa^5§soDioo^ob^, \Yhy do not you go 
ivith me? 


187. Assent is expressed by wS or 301^. 

188. Negation is expressed by prefixing OD to the verb, 
and affixing oo^ ; e. </., asboooboo^, He does not come. 

189. A denial is expressed by a negative sentence; e. g., 
Siolt^ul, ooc^oo^, Has Saiv Wacome.^ No — literally, Not 
come, ooo^DD^, Nu — literally, It is not. 


190. These are irregular in formation; e. g., 00^0000^, 
CKi^o:^^, perhaps, ooySooiS, certainly. 


191. The following are conjunctive adverbs of time — 
cqx, ivhen; e. g., ajioDoS^o'^ijf^ooooc^oo^GSicSi, When I 

see him I ivill tell him,. 

OD^|s, before; e. g., oods|1[Sc^iosod^'3sooo'j8^o^ooc85otc8t, 
We will eat rice before we go. 

osoT^S, •3oc8^C|j\, 'while; e. g., oobo^oboscsn^SBsoo^ooS 
^IcSi, Jle fdl sick v-hile he ^vas coming. See also i^ 222. 

192. OS is used as a correlative conjunctive adverb; e. g., 
ooogoicSojSooosob^SsoicScS-L, The more I study, the more 
I wish to study. 


193. Adverbial couplets are common ; e. g., cdic6»coto8, 
in the beginning, ^c?\, here and there, ooc^SoocSS, 



194. Adverbs which are derived from adjectival roots 
are susceptible of comparison. An adverb in the compar- 
ative or superlative degree is in form exactly the same as 
the corresponding adjective in the same degree ; e. g., 
§\dl2joS9i|So3bSoooi^,<S^aiy Wa ruTis faster than his brother. 


195. The Karen language has seven prepositions, §s, 
scj, coi, i^, ODcqi, osooG|S, and S. 

196. §s, means ivith: it governs the objective case. 

197. at} means to or toivards: it governs the objective 
case ; but often, instead of governing the noun directly, the 
aid of a secondary noun is brought in. See §§ 198, 199. 

198. CO! means at or from, according to the context. 
It seldom governs a substantive directly, but usually 
governs a secondary noun, which is modified by the principal 
substantive, in the possessive case, cot in itself is extremely 
indefinite, and these secondary nouns are brought, in to 
make the meaning more definite. 

199. The more common of the secondary nouns are 
exemplified below — 

coio8^3oo8^, from the Governor. 

coioj^oIoqSicos, by or near Htu Wa. 

coiSioiosSfScos, at the king's feet. 

co^o^vo^\, by my side. 

COT 00 ^0Q^6g1 , in front of the house. 

coioD^oscSSs), behind, the house. 

co^cqco^^^^vb, behind. Tun Hla. 

<:oic8^8^s|]i, on the earth. 

coioo^i, on Tiie-literally, on my surface. 

coico^oQc^i, in the house. 

coio^osSS^, coTO^S^, on the table. 


coiooB^, on his head. 

coTci^ooScoS, under the house. 

co^d!>^^c^\, among the houses. 

coico^oQooi^on, between the houses. 

coic6^o3tJoi\osos, round about the house. 

coioo'-^lo^fi^, for my wife's sake, for my wife. 

coiooSD3\j»ej8, on account of this, because of this. 

coicB^oac^iosnSogSS, \ about Burma. 

conoD^'JsS^, on the surface of the ivater. 

200. ^ means in. It may govern the objective, or may 
be used with a secondary noun, like co^, 

201. ODo^i, throughout, and o?oog[s, round about, govern 
the objective. 

202. S, like, as, always governs the secondary noun cSs, 
the object of comparison being placed in the possessive 
case; e. g., ss^^oiSooq^oscSs^^cSi, The pupil acts like the 
teacher. Sometimes the object of comparison is a noun 

.clause, when S corresponds in meaning to the English as; 
■ e. g., 03t^S«iScoqpo\bo3cSs^^c8\, The pupil does as the 
teacher does. See §§ 211, 228. 


203. The Karen language has few conjunctions, supply- 
ing their place with phrases which are equivalent to con- 
junctions. A classified list of the conjunctions, together 
with the more important conjunctive phrases, will be 
found below. 

204.' %i, and, connects words, phrases or clauses. It 
may stand at the close of the preceding clause, or at the 
beginning of the following one. 


§s — 8:, both — ami; e, g., oDoScgaojcSiSs^^SSscol, The 
Lord God created both sun and moon. 

gS— gS, amZ aZso; e. g., ^SS85gl, e^SS86g1, ooDcJio)^, 
Yovb are a num and I also am a man, tue are not afraid. 

oxco§scoo^ (or oo«^), again. 

coiCQi (or ||^) a3ti»5gl, moreover. 

C0153X (or ^^) 03§S^, moreover. 

oo8^coc85, not only so. 

cow^db, not only so. 


205. «uS, oS (at the beginning of a clause^ hut. 

yoo»^oo^§s, or else, 
oj^ — aj^, either- — or. 
c^^oj^ — ^^^?> <?i?^Aer — o/'. 
oi — oi, either — or. 
oio\ — 9^91, either — or. 

«^9x — «^9"i-, either — or ; e» g., sSoSo\c8^y^oSo-io\^^oDi 
coicooj^oooiS, ^u,^/ 77i€ either a foui or a duck. 


206. <SS^^§g, «^S^^§s, 03o^S«SS^^§s, o«SS^^§g, oicosS 
I ^§8, aso3i§s, 93^ ^§s, and a tew other phrases, take the 
place of the illative conjunction therefore. 

207. The temporal adverbs o^i^ico^ and cr^i^iooo^, 
then, sometimes have the force of illative conjunctions. 


208. 03oSSd3i, osoSSoh^, wSosoSSob^, because. 
0^9^001, oaoj^'s'^co"') because. 

cooojSs, because. This stands at the end of its clause ; 
€. g., oo99\cooo8§soDyxc8o5coc9co^, 1 cannot buy a jacket 
because my money is scant. 



209. oqt, when. 
o^ioS, if. 

9^, if. In this sense «S stands stands immediately after 
the subject. See § 223. 

oo^ao^, though, stands, in this sense, at the end of the 
clause it modifies. 

^Soor?!), oo^8c7j, though, stands at the end of its clause ; 
€. g., O3gi8^^6ooo5 (or ao^ao^^s) oDoCgncBicSt, Although 
the 'price is high, I shall buy it. 

oS^5o3no§^^§s, nevertheless. 


210. C01, that. See §220. 

Sd3s, Sc3s§s, in order that. See §225, 226. 


211. The preposition 8, governing the secondary noun 
c8s, performs the function of a comparative conjunction. 
See §§ 202, 228. 


212. The Karen language has numerous interjections, 
for which consult the dictionary. 


213. Most of the particles have been treated under the 
various parts of speech. A few which cannot be so treated 
to advantage are described here. They are used at the 
end of sentences to indicate the character of the sentence. 



214, c8\ is used with simple affirmatives. 

ODT^ implies that the statement is a matter of course. 
oOi6 implies assent or concession. 

^5, coS^8, or OD^^5 is generally used in reply to question-, 
osc^^ has an emphatic or exclamatory force. 


215. co^ (colloquially, ooi^) is used at the close of -i 
negative sentence. 

cg5cb^, ^5ob^ imply that the statement is probably not 

oscb^ has an emphatic or exclamatory force. 


216 (sl is used after a direct question; e. g., ^cS^aj^sl, 
Are you ivell? 

cb^ is used after an indirect question; e. g., ^cbiajcb^, 
Where are you going ? In conversation cS^ often takes the 
place of c^p. It may also enter into any of the combinations 
into which cb^ enters. 

(fi — <sl are used in an alternative question; e. g , ^o^^8s 
ODr§ 00 ^(fl CO iS\ 00^(21, Do you luant ajjlantain or a mumgo? 

(£\ — c^^ are used in alternative questions, especially in 
indirect discourse ; e. g., oobobcoTooo^clcoit^oooosob^^^ 
jocooj^^loo^, / do not know ivkether he corbies from 
Basse in or Henzada. 

b^ is equivalent to co^fil. 


217. coojS marks a command, oooi, a prohibition, oo^^5, 
or oo^^S, a permission or a somewhat urgent request. 

G 4 



218. S^, at the end of a declarative or imperative sen- 
tence, asks for consent. Hence it softens a command into 
a request. E. g., ooooSiajoD^S^, We will go ho7)ie, shall 
ive not? o^onooiocojSS^, Help 'me, icon't you? 


219. Subordinate clauses are not only introduced by a 
conjunction or some equivalent part of speech, but whore 
they do not stand at the end of the sentence they are also 
terminated by a conjunction or other particle. 

220. Noun clauses may be introduced by cot and ter- 
minated by ^^ ; e. (/.,/ oooooop^1coT03co«\i^i^^cc^, I do 
not hnoiv that he ivill do it. 

221. Adjective clauses are introduced by coi and ter- 
minated by ^^; e. g., coScot co cj^c^sb^^ 28^0310^0:8 8 ^cSi, 
The book ivhich the teacher u-rote is on the table. 

222. Some adverbial clauses are introduced by cot, i^, or 
cr^x, and terminated oy a temporal particle, or by ^^ ; 6'. g., 
o:i\o:>c6pcr>pS\^^oDcodtco^S\S\, When I see him I ivill 
tell him, cooo^cS^bgicflosoo^cS^bo^^^cST, ^ly house is 
luhere Saw Wa's house is, coTooc^a3cSSc|ji^^ooooo6[5co^y\f 
oooio)^, While I luas comhig I saw nobody. 

223. Conditional clauses are introduced by «S, which 
stands immediately after the subject, and are terminated 
by §s ; e. g., 'OoSoSyb^ji^soco-TD^SpcSi, If it rains tve shall 
get zcet. An apparent, but not a real, exceptio to this 
rule is found in the case of complex sentences, in which 
a subordinate noun clause will come before oS ; e. g., ^c6\ 
oSoD§gc^\ooS^5, If you can go, go by all means. 


224. o^ is occasionally used to introduce a concessive 
conditional clause ending in oo^Soc, or oo^so^ ; e. g., 
ooStSob^tcx)^6oioooco^cbicSx, Even though it rains we 
shall have to go. 

225. Clauses of purpose are introduced by Sc8s, or Sc8g§s, 
and when not standing at the end of the sentence are ter- 
minated by §8; e. g., ooc^29<^§d8soooooicSo58, / aime to 
school that I might learn. Sc38^co28^a2^c8,So3x§g^oo^o8 
cooo^, In order that you may recover, you must take 

226. Negative clauses of purpose take the form of a 
prohibitory clause preceded by Sd8s, and terminated (when 
necessary) by §s ; e. r/.. 5'j8s^cocooo^8^oooi§s^oo^88coni(^S, 
In order that you may not get tcet, you must cari'y an 

227. Negative clauses of purpose are sometimes left 
without an introductory particle, and are terminated I by 
co^(|g ; e. g., SpS\coo\, c£sSxcon\, o:jooooco^c^sc8i, Eat it 
not neither touch it, lest ye die, ooS^(3soooo^8^oo^tjs§sooSo6 
000^^00^, / dare not cross the river lest my shoes get wet. 

228. Clauses of comparison are introduced by S and 
terminated by oqc^s^^^, e. g., SSiolyiboacSs^^, ajoo^«xS^^ 
o3o88 9Sc82c8\, As Saw Wa does, so does Tun Tha also. 
See §202, 211. , 



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